You’ve read the news, seen the reports, remarkable real-time graphs and updates from the CDC. Virtually all industry conferences are cancelled or postponed, major sporting events are postponed, most schools and many stores are closed and just about any venue for large crowds from malls to theatres are as empty as the toilet paper aisle at Target.
COVID-19 is serious business and is undoubtedly having an impact on business. Should it stop companies from marketing to other businesses?
We all have an obligation to make the changes necessary to minimize COVID-19 transmission through closures, postponements and having employees work from home like we just implemented at TopRank Marketing this week along with many other companies.
While there will be a period of adjustment, these changes do not mean the work stops. It doesn’t mean companies don’t need information, solutions, support, products and services. The evolving environment we find ourselves in presents new challenges and opportunities to be even more relevant and useful for clients.
While some companies may be distracted or paused in some of their efforts to find solutions, that only means marketing needs to do a better job of providing best answer content in formats that are relevant in the new environment: virtual events, video conferencing, podcasts, webinars, interactive content, recorded video, live streaming and other forms of online engagement. Virtual reality or direct mail are considerations as well.
During this time of transition, it’s also important that marketers review their planned advertising, social and marketing messages to be appropriate to what customers are dealing with right now. Publishing marketing messages as if everything is normal will not resonate or be useful.
Additionally, opportunities may reveal themselves either through data or consumer behavior, like the efforts to encourage gift card purchases from local businesses that will lose foot traffic. A few additional tips for B2B marketers include:
- Stay in close contact with your customers. Learn what you can do to better support them, anticipate changes and offer resources.
- Make sure your brand digital channels are up to date including website, blog, social network profiles, and Google My Business listings.
- Commit to video – convert marketing message activities to video and if you have live video access on LinkedIn for execs or your brand – start using it now.
- Optimize your digital channels: Refresh SEO, social, online advertising and influencer efforts. Identify what is working and reallocate resources and budget as appropriate.
- Reinforce efforts and communications to support community, employees and customers affected through supply of resources, technology or expertise.
Marketers focused on being the best answer for their customers are agile and understand the importance of being responsive to changes, even as large as the Coronavirus pandemic. Being responsible to the health and safety of employees, customers and community should be the top priority while also understanding that the need for information and solutions might slow or change but not stop. We still need to do our jobs and provide useful information, we just need to do it differently.